Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Washington

Grayback Mountain, WA – 05/01/2021

We kicked off our official 2021 hiking season with a bit of an obscure hike from Matt Reeder’s “Off the Beaten Trail” (2nd edition) guidebook. The hike to the summit of Grayback Mountain is a gated dirt road walk through mostly private lands to a view of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks. Because the road to the summit passes through private land it is important to respect the landowners rights, Leave No Trace and be aware that access could be closed at anytime. The hike starts on Washington Department of Natural Resources Land (A Discover Pass is required to park) at a parking area at a gate.
IMG_3118

To reach the trailhead we took Washington Highway 142 north from Lyle, WA 23.3 miles to a junction with the Glenwood-Goldendale Road where we turned left for an additional 5.6 miles to an unmarked junction with Grayback Road on the right. (The road crests just beyond this junction and begins to descend into the Klickitat River Canyon.) We followed Grayback Road for 0.6 miles to the parking area at the end of a meadow.
IMG_3124Looking back toward the meadow.

After checking out the various wildflowers around the trailhead we set off past the gate on Grayback Road.
IMG_3125Western white groundsel

IMG_3134Showy phlox

IMG_3136Larkspur

20210501_074234Mahala Mat (Prostrate ceanothus)

IMG_3140

We then just followed this road for 5.6 miles to a radio tower atop Grayback Mountain. There were several junctions with other roads along the way but by keeping more or less straight and uphill it was easy enough to follow the correct road.

Ranging in elevation from just over 2000′ to approximately 3700′ the scenery varied from oak and ponderosa pines interspersed with meadows to mixed conifers and then to open hillsides filled with wildflowers (mostly parsleys). The views were spectacular and we were fortunate to not only have relatively clear skies but little wind making our time at the summit quite pleasant. We saw no other people during the hike and I don’t think a minute went by that we didn’t hear at least one bird signing. Butterflies came out later in the morning and I spent much of the return hike trying to catch them at rest for pictures.
IMG_3148Showy phlox among the oaks.

IMG_3146Serviceberry

IMG_3151Sparrow

IMG_3153Oregon grape

IMG_3156Strawberry

20210501_075157Arnica

IMG_3165Grayback Mountain from Grayback Road. The first 2.5 miles of the hike only gained 400′ while the next 3.1 gained 1400′.

IMG_3171Large head clover

IMG_3176Camas, much of which had yet to bloom.

IMG_3179Ponderosa pines along the road.

IMG_3180Western buttercups

Small flower woodland star and slender phloxWoodland star and slender phlox

IMG_3184Pussytoes and camas

IMG_3193A cryptantha

IMG_3196Oaks and ponderosas

<img src="https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51153012403_83d088dc07_c.jpg&quot; width="800" height="600" alt="IMG_3197">Death camas and parsley

IMG_3201Lupine

IMG_3214Robin

IMG_3217Dark eyed junco

IMG_3218Bumble bee

IMG_3220A more forested section of the road.

IMG_3223Ball-head waterleaf

IMG_3224Largeleaf sandwort

20210501_085644American vetch

IMG_3233Dandelions in Mahala Mat

IMG_3235Bitter cherry

IMG_3237The real climb started at about the 4 mile mark at a junction below Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3241Sagebrush false dandelion

IMG_3246Climbing up Grayback Mountain

IMG_3258Red breasted nuthatch

IMG_3265First view of Mt. Hood since the trailhead.

IMG_3267Mt. Hood

IMG_3281Buckwheat

IMG_3289Mt. Hood beyond the Klickitat River Canyon

IMG_3294Turkey vulture

IMG_3292Entering the meadows on Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3301Approaching the first view of Mt. Adams.

IMG_3304Mt. Adams

IMG_3306Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3307Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3313In the meadows.

IMG_3314A balsamroot surrounded by parsley.

IMG_3321Indra swallowtail

IMG_3326Western meadowlark in a patch of Columbia desert parsley.

IMG_3342

IMG_3367Radio equipment atop Grayback Mountain with Mt. Adams beyond.

IMG_3360Mt. Hood (we could just barely make out the top of Mt. Jefferson too.) from the summit.

IMG_3361The Klickitat River

IMG_3351Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks

IMG_3353Mt. Adams

IMG_3355Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks (the Klickitat River originates from Goat Rocks.)

IMG_3369Daggerpod

IMG_3371Obligatory survey marker photo.

IMG_3366Looking east across the summit to the long ridge of Indian Rock. The boundary of the Yakima Indian Reservation is just on the north side of the summit.

IMG_3376A few gold stars still had petals.

IMG_3394A hairstreak but I’m not sure which type.

IMG_3400At least 4 ants on a large head clover.

IMG_3404Looking back south down Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3429There was a lot of white-stemmed frasera in the area but this was the closest one to blooming (and it’s a ways off).

Possibly a Brown elfin - Callophrys augustinus?Maybe a brown elfin. I couldn’t get a clear picture of this one.

IMG_3453Erynnis propertius – Propertius Duskywing (aka Western Oak Dustywing). There were lots of these duskywings flying about, it turns out that oaks are their host plants.

IMG_3494Another Erynnis propertius

Juba skipper - Hesperia jubaJuba skippers caught in the act.

Anise SwallowtailAnise swallowtail coming in for a landing on showy phlox.

IMG_3493Alligator lizard on a log.

IMG_3497Western fence lizard

Mylitta crescents - Phyciodes mylitta?I believe these to be Mylitta crescents.

After our relatively crowded previous outing at Columbia Hills State Park (post) the hike to Grayback Mountain was a welcome dose of solitude. While the flower display wasn’t as plentiful here it was still nice and there appeared to be plenty more to come. The view from the summit was worth the visit on its own and the near constant bird song made for a perfect soundtrack for the day. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Grayback Mountain

Categories
Hiking Year-end wrap up

The Hikes of 2020 – A Look Back

Well 2020 is officially over and I think nearly everyone is glad to see it go. It was a rough year for so many between COVID-19 costing lives and jobs and wildfires claiming homes and businesses. We were fortunate in that we were able to keep working throughout the year, stayed healthy, and were just slightly inconvenienced by the fires that impacted so many after Labor Day. The most traumatic event that we personally experienced was the loss of our eldest cat, Buddy (post) in January.

With all that going on during the year, hiking became a way to try and escape and yet it seemed nearly impossible not to feel the cloud that was 2020 hanging over everything. It certainly made for a “different” year of hiking. I made more changes to our planned hikes in 2020 than in any previous year. It wasn’t just COVID and fires that triggered changes either, flooding in the Blue Mountains east of Pendleton in February damaged Forest Service Roads and trails forcing us to cancel a planned June trip. We originally had 58 days of hiking planned (as of January 1, 2020) but we cancelled a September backpacking trip in the Sky Lakes Wilderness due to heavy wildfire smoke which left us ending the year with 52 days of hiking. Of those only 19 days consisted of hikes that were on the list on January 1, and just 9 wound up happening on the day originally scheduled (an additional two happened within a day of the original plan).

During those 52 days we spent 10 nights backpacking, stopped at 70 trails/trailheads, and 3 roadside waterfalls.
2020 hikesHiker symbol = Trails/trailheads, yellow houses = campsites, purple binoculars = roadside waterfalls

This year saw no repeated hikes and just 18 days where we were on the same part of a trail that we had hiked in a previous year, roughly 34.5 out of the 586.7 miles that hiked. That meant a lot of new trails and sights for us. Two of the hikes, Gearhart Mountain (post), and Boulder Creek (post) were in wilderness areas that we had yet to make it to.
Gearhart Mountain WildernessGearhart Mountain

Boulder CreekBoulder Creek

Here are just a few highlights from the places we visited over the year. (* denotes at least some of the area burned in a 2020 fire.)

January
Cobblestones along the beach at Cape Lookout State ParkNetarts Spit

February

View from Spencer ButteSpencer Butte

Shotgun CreekShotgun Creek

Horse Rock Ridge TrailHorse Rock Ridge

March
Morning at Miller WoodsMiller Woods

Trappist AbbeyTrappist Abbey

April

CamasBush Pasture Park

May
Baskett ButteBasket Slough Wildlife Refuge

North Fork Willamette RiverNorth Fork Willamette River

Little Luckiamute RiverLittle Luckiamute River

Old growth at Valley of the GiantsValley of the Giants

Indigo SpringsIndigo Springs

Rigdon MeadowsRigdon Meadows

Pigeon Butte TrailheadPigeon Butte

June
East Fork South Fork McKenzie RiverEast Fork South Fork McKenzie River

Sullivan Creek FallsSullivan Creek Falls*

Henline FallsHenline Falls*

Bull-of-the Woods and Whetstone Mountain from the lookout siteHenline Mountain*

Spirit FallsSpirit Falls

Pinard FallsPinard Falls

Moon FallsMoon Falls

Memaloose LakeMemaloose Lake*

Echo Basin TrailEcho Basin

Hall HouseFish Lake

View from the Green Ridge TrailGreen Ridge*

High Ridge TrailTable Rock Wilderness* (The Riverside fire burned at least the access road and may have encroached into the SW portion of the wilderness.)

Mt. Adams from the Monte Carlo TrailMonte Carlo Trail

July
Hunchback TrailHunchback Mountain

Meadow along the Pyramids TrailMeadow below the Three Pyramids

North Pyramid from Daly LakeDaly Lake

View from Winter RidgeWinter Ridge

Light Peak from Fence PassFence Pass

Beatys Butte from Flook LakeFlook Lake

Barnhardy RoadHart Mountain Antelope Refuge

Petroglyphs around Petroglyph LakePetroglyphs along Petroglyph Lake

Waterfall on DeGarmo CreekDeGarmo Canyon

The Palisades in the Gearhart Mountain WildernessThe Palisades in the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness (This was probably our favorite area of the year amid these rock formations.)

August
View from Sleeping BeautySleeping Beauty

Red Butte and Mt. Adams from the Highline TrailHighline Trail

Cottonwood Creek FallsCottonwood Creek Falls (This was probably the sketchiest hike we’ve done.)

Mt. ThielsenMt. Thielsen* (The Thielsen Creek fire burned a small part of the trails in the area.)

The old Bohemia Post OfficeBohemia Post Office

Diamond Peak from Diamond View LakeDiamond View Lake

Climbers trail to Diamond PeakDiamond Peak (The sketchiest hike we didn’t do.)

Diamond Peak from Karen Lake at sunsetKaren Lake

Middle Erma Bell LakeMiddle Erma Bell Lake

September
Mt. Bailey from the Dellenback TrailDiamond Lake

Rattlesnake Mountain from the Rogue-Umpqua Divide TrailRattlesnake Mountain

View from the Spruce Run Creek TrailSpruce Run Creek Trail

October

Deep Lake TrailIndian Heaven Wilderness

Deschutes River with Grizzly Mountain in the distanceWildcat Canyon

National Creek FallsNational Creek Falls

Takelma GorgeTakelma Gorge

Hershberger Mountian LookoutHershberger Mountain

Rabbit EarsRabbit Ears

Rogue River at Natural BridgeNatural Bridge

Old lookout tower on Abbott ButteAbbott Butte Lookout

Wild Cherry TrailForest Park

Upper Latourell FallsUpper Latourell Falls

Larch Mountain from Multnomah BasinLarch Mountain

November
McKenzie RiverMcKenzie River

December

Sun rays through the treesYachats

Not all of the trails were in the greatest of shape, an issue that is unfortunately becoming more common as the agencies that manage them often lack the funding to maintain them.
Blowdown over the Swordfern TrailSwordfern Trail

East Fork Trail under blowdownEast Fork Trail

Blowdown over the Riggs Lake TrailRiggs Lake Trail

Hackleman Old Growth TrailHackleman Old Growth Loop

Howlock Mountain TrailHowlock Mountain Trail

Shale Ridge Trail continuing on the far side of the North Fork Middle Fork Willamette RiverShale Ridge Trail

Acker Divide Trail covered by blowdownAcker Divide Trail

Union Creek Trail (it is straight ahead, really)Union Creek Trail

While we haven’t run out of new trails and areas to explore we are finding it harder to see wildflowers and wildlife that we haven’t already seen at some point but there always seems to be some. We spotted a bobcat for the first time (from the car) on our way to Winter Ridge (post). Lake Abert and Summer Lake hosted a few species of birds that we hadn’t run across before. (post) We plan on posting wildflower and wildlife galleries soon but for now here are those that were new to us this year.
Castilleja levisecta - Golden PaintbrushCastilleja levisecta – Golden Paintbrush at Basket Slough Wildlife Refuge (post)

Musk thistleMusk Thistle at Winter Ridge (Unfortunately it’s an invasive but they were impressive.)

Pandora moth catapillerPandora moth caterpillar at Green Ridge (post)

Horned larkHorned Lark at Flook Lake (post)

Gulls and American avocets at Lake Abert Watchable Wildlife AreaGulls and American avocets at Lake Abert

Various birds including a white faced ibis and a black necked stiltBlack necked stilt at Summer Lake

Frog under Heather's daypackPossibly a coastal tailed frog at Wiley Camp in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness (post)

The most interesting thing that happened this year though was stumbling on a human mandible. It was a little unsettling but it was clearly fairly old. We left it alone and marked the coordinates the GPS and reported it to the agency in charge of the land. The agency was nice enough to keep us in the loop when archeologists were called in to confirm that it was Native American at which point they contacted the appropriate Tribe(s) so that they could decide what to do with it. We were asked no to share the location for obvious reasons. It was very interesting getting to see how that process worked.

We also hit a couple of milestones this year, our last hike at Yachats (post) was our 500th day of hiking and we reached our long term goal of hiking all 100 featured hikes in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Oregon Cascades” (4th edition). We will talk a little more about that in a progress report on our goal to finish the 100 featured hikes in all five of his guide books covered areas.

Despite all its troubles 2020 will at least be memorable. Here is to a better 2021 with more new trail, new discoveries, and hopefully some happier stories. Happy Trails!

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Foggy Flat Backpack Day 2 – 08/02/2020

Normally when we are just hiking back to a trailhead the same way we got to a campsite it wouldn’t warrant a separate trip report, but our hike from Foggy Flat back to the Killen Creek Trailhead did. After spending the night at Foggy Flat(post) we woke just after 5am to find clear skies and a nice sunrise.
IMG_3076Goat Rocks in the morning

Even before the Sun was up it was light enough to get a good look at Mt. Adams.
IMG_3081Mt. Adams

IMG_3087

IMG_3083

Morning had brought out the mosquitoes so we decided to pack up and stop for breakfast somewhere along the return hike hoping for a less buggy spot. After a mile we stopped at the Muddy Meadows Trail junction where a log made for a prefect bench to have breakfast on.
IMG_3100Looking down the Muddy Meadows Trail from the log.

After breakfast we continued on the Highline Trail which offered good views of Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks in this direction. When we weren’t looking at the mountains or the flowers various birds caught our attention.
IMG_3091Small hawk

IMG_3120Gray jay

Going in this direction gave us some good looks ahead toward Mt. Rainier.
IMG_3110Mt. Rainier and some of the Goat Rocks.

IMG_3116

IMG_3128Northern flicker

The unnamed lake near the Pacific Crest Trail had an excellent reflection of the forest and Mt. Adams.
IMG_3137

IMG_3141

IMG_3145Little bird near the PCT junction.

When we reached Killen Creek (.2 miles beyond the PCT junction) we crossed on the footbridge then removed our packs to take the steep use trail down below the waterfall as we’d planned the day before.
IMG_3154

IMG_3158Killen Creek below the waterfall.

IMG_3167

IMG_3171Mt. Adams from the waterfall.

After exploring the area below the falls we climbed back up and continued through Killen Creek Meadows, stopping to check on the pollywogs along the way.
IMG_3174_stitch

IMG_3181

The blue sky made for a different look than we’d had the day before and we kept pausing along the way to marvel at the scenery.
IMG_3195Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks from the PCT.

IMG_3204

IMG_3207

IMG_3209Breakfast time (possibly second breakfast)

IMG_3210

IMG_3214Zooming in on Mt. Rainier

IMG_3215

IMG_3221

We were almost surprised when we arrived at the junction with the Killen Creek Trail. The miles go by pretty quick when you’re distracted. We turned down that trail putting Mt. Adams to our backs.
IMG_3225

IMG_3231Killen Creek Trail heading away from Mt. Adams.

We turned to look back several times seeing less and less of the mountain before we lost sight of it for good.
IMG_3233

IMG_3236

It had been wonderful trip. The Mt. Adams Wilderness has yet to let us down and we’re already looking forward to our next visit down the road. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Foggy Flat Backpack Day 2

 

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Sleeping Beauty & Foggy Flat Backpack Day One- 08/01/2020

Our first backpacking trip of the year was over Memorial Day weekend (post) but since then we hadn’t had an opportunity to break out our tent. Sleeping Beauty, a 3 mile featured hike in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” (4th edition), gave us a reason to put the tent to use again.

It wasn’t because the hike to the top of Sleeping Beauty was backpackable, but rather the 2:45 drive time to the trailhead was too long for this to be a stand alone hike for us. To make the trip worth the drive we decided to continued to nearby Mt. Adams and do a hike to Foggy Flat from Matt Reeder’s “PDX Hiking 365” guidebook.

We began our trip by driving to Trout Lake, WA then continued on to the Sleeping Beauty Trailhead.
IMG_2359

The trail climbed steeply up through a green forest for a mile to a forested saddle. Most of the flowers had passed but a few lingered and the pearly everlasting was getting started. Thimbleberries weren’t quite ripe but we did find a few strawberries to snack on.
IMG_2374

IMG_2376Beardstongue

IMG_2377Pearly everlasting next to thimbleberry bushes.

IMG_2371Not quite ready yet.

IMG_2381

Near the saddle we got our first look at the rock feature that is Sleeping Beauty from the trail (it is visible on the drive).
IMG_2392

The trail bends to the right (ignore a fainter trail heading left) at the saddle continuing through the trees.
IMG_2394

Another bit of climbing brought us beneath the rocks.
IMG_2411

The trail switchbacked its way up amid the rocks up stonework ramps gaining views of the surrounding Cascade mountains along the way.
IMG_2414Mt. Adams

IMG_2415Goat Rocks (post) to the left beyond Mt. Adams

IMG_2417Looking down at some of the switchbacks.

IMG_2419Mt. St. Helens in the distance.

IMG_2424The top of Mt. Rainier.

IMG_2426Mt. Hood to the South.

IMG_2431_stitchMt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams.

IMG_2448Indian Heaven Wilderness

It was fairly windy up on the rocks, just windy enough to make us a little nervous when we got to the saddle near the top as we had to push back a bit against it. Luckily the top is fairly wide and there was a least one place behind a rock where the wind was non-existent.
IMG_2430Looking east over the top of Sleeping Beauty.

20200801_084405_HDRLooking west to the true summit where a lookout once stood.

We were hoping to see a mountain goat as they do live here but alas we only saw some fur on a rock and a couple of bushes. The views would have to do and they did just fine. I scrambled over to the former lookout site after deciding it looked safe enough while Heather waited at the saddle.
IMG_2443

IMG_2455Mt. Hood from the foundation of the former lookout.

After a good long time exploring the area and enjoying the views we headed back down. We passed several groups of hikers heading up (just about everyone had a mask) so we were once again glad we’d gotten the early start to have the top to ourselves.

From the trailhead we drove back to Trout Lake and turned left onto Mount Adams Road aka Forest Road 23. (Google would have had us continue on the forest road we had been on to reach the Killen Creek Trailhead, but Google doesn’t always know the condition of the Forest Roads and I don’t either so we played it safe.)

We then followed Reeder’s direction to the Killen Creek Trailhead stopping along the way when Heather spotted a nice waterfall on Big Spring Creek.
IMG_2469Sign at a pullout along FR 23.

IMG_2471These were huge yellow monkeyflowers.

IMG_2476Big Spring Creek

After the brief stop we drove on. The final 9 miles on FR 23 was gravel but wide and not too bad. We turned off of the gravel onto the narrow, paved FR 2329 which was a nice break, but beyond the turn for Takhalakh Lake Campground this road also turned to gravel. It was not in the best condition and was fairly narrow and busy which made for a bit of a tedious final 6 miles to the Killen Creek Trailhead.
IMG_2479

IMG_2478

After attempting some gear repair (a hole in some clothing) we set off and quickly entered the Mt. Adams Wilderness.
IMG_2485

This was only our third visit to the wilderness with our first having been a hike from the South Climb Trailhead to Iceberg Lake in 2014 (post) and the second an overnight stay at Horseshoe Meadows in 2017 (post). (Apparently this is an every three year thing.)

The Killen Creek Trail climbed through the forest where we were pleased to find quite a few flowers were blooming. Little did we know what was coming.
IMG_2493Lupine along the trail.

IMG_2500

IMG_2501Arnica

IMG_2504Lousewort

IMG_2505More lupine along the trail.

IMG_2506Partridge foot and lupine.

IMG_2514Lupine, paintbrush and valerian.

IMG_2523Lupine along the trail which sees a good amount of equestrian use.

IMG_2526Mountain heather.

IMG_2529

As we continued to climb the number and types of flowers we were seeing kept increasing.
IMG_2536Yellow buttercups mixed in with the lupine, paintbrush and valerian.

IMG_2542Beardstongue, arnica and lupine.

IMG_2544Beargrass

Approximately 2.5 miles up the trail the flowers really started to explode as the trail began to level out a bit.
IMG_2553

IMG_2555

Over the next mile we gained views of Mt. Adams and crossed a small alpine stream all while being mesmerized by the flowers.
IMG_2563

IMG_2571

IMG_2582Lousewort

IMG_2586

IMG_2591

IMG_2595Elephants head near the stream.

IMG_2604Elephants head and a shooting star.

IMG_2601

IMG_2608

IMG_2612

20200801_125034Mountain heather

IMG_2620Phlox

As we gained elevation we also began to get glimpses of Mt. Rainier to the NW.
IMG_2626

IMG_2631

The views and flowers just kept getting better as we went.
IMG_2646

IMG_2652False hellebore amid the lupine.

20200801_130422

IMG_2665Paintbrush framed by trees.

IMG_2675Woolly pussytoes

After a little over 3.25 miles the Killen Creek Trail ended at the Pacific Crest Trail.
IMG_2685

We had been to this junction in 2017 when we had hiked the PCT north from Horseshoe Meadows. We had continued a few hundred feet before realizing that Killen Creek was still almost a mile away. This time we would be hiking beyond Killen Creek and so we turned left on the PCT and continued on.
IMG_2689

Where the Killen Creek Trail was heading for Mt. Adams the PCT was bending around the mountain. This made for more up and down hiking as opposed to steady climbing. Mt. Adams occasionally made an appearance over our right shoulders and the flowers continued to be amazing.
IMG_2692

IMG_2696

20200801_131817Cinquefoil

IMG_2702White and pink mountain heather, paintbrush and lupine above the PCT.

IMG_2706Shooting star

IMG_2733Violets

IMG_2737Coming in for a landing on groundsel.

IMG_2731

IMG_2739Aster

The Goat Rocks was soon fully visible between us and Mt. Rainier.
IMG_2744

IMG_2746_stitchGoat Rocks

A little under a mile from the Killen Creek Trail junction the PCT began a descent to Killen Creek Meadows.
IMG_2756

IMG_2761Aster and white seed heads

There were a couple of small ponds still holding water in the meadows and we noticed a lot of ripples in the water as we approached.
IMG_2764

It turned out to be pollywogs, and a lot of them.
IMG_2768

IMG_2772

IMG_2775Spirea

The PCT crossed Killen Creek on a footbridge just above a waterfall.
IMG_2781

IMG_2782Killen Creek and Mt. Adams.

There was a steep path down on this side of the falls but it looked like the PCT might have a good view of it on the other side of the creek so we opted not to head down. We figured the worst case scenario was that there wouldn’t be a view and we could just go down on the way back out.
IMG_2780

As we started to cross the bridge we noticed something in the creek nearby, it was an ouzel.
IMG_2785

There wasn’t a great view of the waterfall on the other side.
IMG_2791The waterfall from the PCT.

The PCT descended to a lower meadow where a trail led out to a campsite and another possible vantage point for the waterfall but the view was obscured so we put it on the to do list for the next day.
IMG_2792

From Killen Creek it was .2 flower filled miles to a junction with the Highline Trail.
IMG_2800Highline Trail ahead.

IMG_2801

Here we left the PCT as it continued on its way to Goat Rocks and beyond and turned up the Highline Trail. Not far from the junction we arrived at an unnamed lake with a reflection of Mt. Adams.
IMG_2804

IMG_2805

The wildflowers had been impressive thus far but the Highline Trail took it up a notch.
IMG_2809

IMG_2812Yellow arnica along the trail.

IMG_2813Beargrass in full bloom.

IMG_2818

IMG_2830

IMG_2836Subalpine mariposa lily

After a total of 1.7 miles on this trail we arrived at another junction. This time it was the Muddy Meadows Trail.
IMG_2838

IMG_2840Look more lupine that way.

We continued on the Highline Trail another mile before reaching Foggy Flat, a wet meadow near an unnamed creek.
IMG_2844Still tons of flowers.

IMG_2856Frog near Foggy Flat

IMG_2862Mt. Adams from Foggy Flat

IMG_2869Frog in a little stream at Foggy Flat.

IMG_2868Zoomed in

We walked along the meadow to the far end where the creek was located looking for tent sites. There was one occuppied site along the trail across from the meadow but that was about all we saw at first.
IMG_2874

The Highline Trail crossed the creek on a footbridge but then launched steeply uphill so we turned around and decided to check around the meadow more thoroughly for a suitable site.
IMG_2875

IMG_2881

IMG_2878Gentian

IMG_2884Elephants Head

We are fairly picky about our campsites. We do not like to camp on any vegetation, especially in meadows and we do our best to maintain a proper distance from water and trails. Unfortunately we are in the minority and it was obvious from the fire rings and smashed grasses that many others aren’t as selective (not to mention the TP – come on people). We finally managed to find an acceptable spot tucked into some trees.
IMG_2889

With camp established we took our daypacks out put our essentials plus dinner and the stove into them and set off across the creek on the Highline Trail. Reeder described the trail beyond Foggy Flat as having “incredible views” but also “difficult creek crossings”. Our plan was to go as far as the Muddy Fork crossing and unless it looked really easy turn back there.
IMG_2897Monkeyflower and willowherb along the creek.

The climb up from the creek was indeed steep and we were happy to just have our daypacks on.
IMG_2902Mt. Rainier behind us.

20200801_161001_HDR

IMG_2911The trail dropping steeply behind us on one of the steeper sections.

We passed several nice campsites as the terrain became more level at the edge of a lava flow. A couple of the sites were occupied. Despite the rockier conditions due to the lava flow the flower show continued.
IMG_2914Can you spot the yellow paintbrush?

Shortly after crossing another little creek we found ourselves in the lava field with an excellent view of Mt. Adams. We had been waiting for the clouds to break up all day and now they were starting to oblige.
IMG_2923

IMG_2926

IMG_2933

IMG_2934Buckwheat

We continued to follow the Highline Trail through the lava and past snow fields.
IMG_2942

IMG_2946

The lava also provided great views of Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks.
IMG_2944

IMG_2949Goat Creek falling from Goat Lake.

IMG_2955_stitchRed Butte and Mt. Adams

IMG_2961Red Butte, a neat looking cinder cone.

IMG_2959Flower amid the rocks.

We did indeed stop at Muddy Fork. It was a little more of a crossing than we wanted to tackle at that point.
IMG_2969

IMG_2970

IMG_2978

We backed track a bit to rise where we had seen a great looking spot for dinner (or a tent). We cooked our dinner there and then explored a bit on the ridge above the spot where we found a few flowers amid the rocks and more amazing views.
IMG_2984Paintbrush

IMG_2993Cutleaf daisy

IMG_2999Dwarf alpinegold

IMG_2992?

IMG_3003_stitch

20200801_175828

We eventually headed back to Foggy Flat under the watchful eyes of the locals.
IMG_3024

We were momentarily distracted below one of the snow fields as we watched a stream forming in front of our eyes.
IMG_3028Water in the upper portions of the snowmelt stream.

IMG_3030The same stream 3 minutes later.

When the water reached a large hole that would take some time to fill we managed to pull ourselves away and continue back to our campsite. We stopped at the creek to get water for the next day and turned in fairly quickly. There were just enough mosquitoes about to be a nuisance making the confines of the tent that much more appealing.

Combining this hike with our previous two visits we’ve managed to cover quite a bit of the trails that wrap around the mountain. The east side of Mt. Adams is on part of the Yakima Indian Reservation and is largely trail less. Special permits are required to enter the Reservation with the exception of Bird Creek Meadows on the SE side of the mountain.
Mt. Adams Tracks

From every angle that we’ve seen it Mt. Adams continues to impress us. It’s truly a special place. Happy Trails!
20200801_191051_HDR

Categories
Hiking Indian Heaven Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Falls Creek Falls and Indian Racetrack

One week after spending a day hiking in California at the Lava Beds National Monument (post) we visited our neighbor to the north, Washington. On our itinerary for the day were a pair of hikes north of Carson, WA. We started with a visit to Falls Creek Falls.

We parked at the trailhead at the end of Forest Road 57 where only one other car occupied the large parking area at 7:15am. The dim morning light coupled with some low clouds made it hard to capture the fall colors with the camera but our eyes had no problems appreciating them as we set off on the trail.
IMG_4324

We quickly passed a trail on the left which would be part of the loop we were planning on doing here and stayed straight toward the falls.
IMG_4331

At the .4 mile mark we arrived at a short suspension bridge over Falls Creek.
IMG_4339

IMG_4340

IMG_4342

Beyond the bridge the trail climbed gradually for a mile to a junction. Along the way there were several views of the creek.
IMG_4345

IMG_4348

IMG_4350

IMG_4354

IMG_4357

At the junction we stayed right and continued to gradually climb for another .3 miles to three tiered Falls Creek Falls. The first views are of the upper and middle tiers through some trees.
IMG_4366

IMG_4368

The lower tier comes into view near the end of the trail at which point most of the upper tier is lost due to the angle.
IMG_4391

IMG_4388

We spent a few chilly minutes admiring the falls before heading back to the junction.
IMG_4393

Here we veered uphill to the right climbing fairly steeply for about two tenths of a mile to the Falls Creek Trail.
IMG_4395

IMG_4396

Before continuing on the loop we turned right on the Falls Creek Trail to visit a viewpoint or two above the falls. After .6 miles on this fairly level trail we spotted a side trail heading out to the first viewpoint. We started to head out this spur but then noticed a tent set up there (we found the owners of the other car) so we continued another quarter mile to the second viewpoint.
IMG_4403

IMG_4404

The view from the top was just out over the valley, but a steep scramble trail led down to the top of the falls from here. We checked to see if the ground seemed muddy or slick, but it turned out to be in good shape so we made our way down to the creek just above the falls.
IMG_4412

IMG_4408

From the viewpoint we returned to the loop and continued down the Falls Creek Trail 1.7 miles to another bridge over Falls Creek which we hadn’t seen since the viewpoint. Despite the creek not being visible from the trail the scenery was not lacking due to the surrounding forest and fall colors.
IMG_4415

IMG_4423

IMG_4426

IMG_4427

At the far side of the bridge we turned left for a little over half a mile completing the loop and returning to our car, and a much fuller parking lot.
IMG_4429

IMG_4432

After the 6.3 mile hike here we were ready for the second hike of the day to the Indian Heaven Wilderness and Red Mountain. We drove back toward Carson and eventually (after missing the turn the first time) turned east on Warren Gap Road (Road 405) at a pointer for the Panther Creek Campground. We followed this road for a little under two miles to Forest Road 65 where we turned left for 8 miles, passing the parking area for Panther Creek Falls (post) along the way, to a junction with FR 60. We turned right here and followed this road for two miles to the Pacific Crest Trail and a small campground.
IMG_4434

IMG_4436

We followed the PCT north climbing gradually through the forest which looked quite different from the forest along Falls Creek just a few miles away.
IMG_4440

IMG_4445

A little over 1.75 miles from the trailhead we passed one of the small Sheep Lakes.
IMG_4449

IMG_4451

A quarter mile later we entered the Indian Heaven Wilderness.
IMG_4456

Although there wasn’t as much fall color along this trail as there had been along the trails at Fall Creek there was some and there were also some interesting mushrooms to be seen.
IMG_4461

IMG_4469This may named be Green Lake

IMG_4442

IMG_4453

IMG_4464

IMG_4473

As we hiked through a meadow we spotted the lookout tower on Red Mountain to the SW which was to be one of our stops on the hike.
IMG_4478

IMG_4480

We turned left off of the PCT 1.2 miles after entering the wilderness at a sign for Indian Racetrack.
IMG_4483

IMG_4485

This trail led a half mile through the forest to the large meadows at Indian Racetrack where up until 1928 tribes indeed raced horses.
IMG_4489

IMG_4493

IMG_4498

IMG_4501

We turned left in the middle of the meadows toward a trail sign for the Indian Racetrack Trail.
IMG_4502

IMG_4503

This trail climbed for .8 miles, steeply at times, to a road on the shoulder of Red Mountain. An opening just above a saddle along the way provided a nice view of Mt. Adams to the NE.
IMG_4506

IMG_4516

IMG_4513

IMG_4523

We followed the road uphill for .3 miles to the lookout gaining views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier along the way.
IMG_4528

IMG_4532

IMG_4537

IMG_4542Lemei Rock and Mt. Adams

Near the lookout Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson could be seen to the south in Oregon.
IMG_4543

IMG_4544

We took a nice long break at the summit gazing at Washington’s trio of volcanoes and talking with a fellow hiker from Vancouver who had tried to reach the lookout earlier in the year but had been turned back by snow.
IMG_4555_stitch

IMG_4575Mt. St. Helens

IMG_4581Mt. Rainier

IMG_4569Mt. Adams

From the lookout we headed back down the road and followed it all the way back down to FR 60 a total of 3.4 miles from the tower.
IMG_4583

We were a half mile from the Pacfic Crest Trail so we road walked, uphill, back to our car. In hindsight it might have been nicer to do the loop in reverse in order to start with the road walks and finish the hike with a gradual descent. Either way it was a great hike, but we had been expecting it to be a 7.5 mile loop based on our guidebook, but our GPS (and our legs) put it at 9.2 miles. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Falls Creek Falls and Indian Racetrack

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Labor Day Weekend – Mt. Adams Wilderness Days 2 & 3

We woke up after 6am on Sunday morning which counts as sleeping in for us. The forecast had called for smokey conditions all weekend which hadn’t materialized at all on Saturday but the sky was a little hazy now.
It certainly wasn’t bad and there was no fire smell in the air which was nice.

IMG_7749

Our mission was to find a water source as we had run low the day before and didn’t want to try and filter out of the nearby Cascade Creek which was too silty. We grabbed our packs and headed across Horseshoe Meadow to the Pacific Crest Trail. Our plan was to follow it north to the Killen Creek Trail and possibly into Killen Creek Meadows.

IMG_7753

The PCT climbed along a ridge at the edge of the meadow and we were able to spot our tent in the trees below.

IMG_7755

The trail climbed around the ridge end through the scars of the Cascade Creek Fire. The ground was covered with flowers that were well past bloom but they still provided a colorful display.

IMG_7757

IMG_7758

IMG_7759

Looking out to the SW we could see smoke in the valleys below a higher layer of clouds. Mt. St. Helens somehow seemed to be in a clear zone though.

IMG_7761

IMG_7762

As we passed a large rocky area we heard the “meep” of a pika followed by several more. We stopped to see if we could spot one of our favorite alpine animals and sure enough one scurried out onto a nearby rock.

IMG_7768

IMG_7774

After watching the little guy for a while we remembered our quest for water and continued on. The trail remained in the Cascade Creek Fire zone for nearly the entire 3.5 miles to Sheep Lake which was the first potential source of water we came too. The fire zone offered some nice views and interesting rock formations reminding us that as sad as it is too see the forest burn it is part of the natural cycle and can offer some different scenic qualities.

IMG_7775

IMG_7778

IMG_7781Mt. St. Helens

IMG_7783

IMG_7784The bottom of Mt. Rainier

IMG_7789

IMG_7798Goat Rocks

IMG_7806Small cave along the PCT

IMG_7807

Sheep Lake was nice and was lined with berries which we happily ate as part of our breakfast but it was a little shallow along the edges for our pump filter.

IMG_7810

Riley Creek was near enough that we could hear it flowing so we decided to check it out to see if the water was clear enough to filter. Not only was the water clear but the creek was lovely and we found a large flat area atop some rocks where we could cook our breakfast.

IMG_7812

IMG_7814

Heather filtered water while I prepared our Mountain House Spicy Southwest Breakfast Hash which is quickly becoming one of our favorite backpacking meals.

IMG_7815

After breakfast we continued north on the PCT into a green forest. More blueberries and huckleberries lined the trail and we joined the area wildlife in snacking on the juicy treats.

IMG_7818

IMG_7830

Large clumps of gentians dotted the open ground in this area as well.

IMG_7825

IMG_7829

IMG_7831

Just under a quarter mile from Riley Creek we passed the Riley Camp Trail.

IMG_7832

The stretch of green forest lasted for about a mile before the PCT came to a lava flow near Mutton Creek.

IMG_7838

Mutton Creek was cloudy with silt but not the chocolate color of Cascade Creek. It looked more like someone had poured some milk into the creek. The trail followed the cascading creek for a bit before crossing it.

IMG_7844

IMG_7848

IMG_7850

The PCT then passed across another section of lava where we stopped to admire the craggy peaks lining the horizon.

IMG_7851

IMG_7856

IMG_7860

IMG_7859

There was also a good view of Mt. Adams although the combination of the haze and angle of the Sun affected it.

IMG_7865

We passed through another meadow before reaching the Lewis River.

IMG_7872

IMG_7876

IMG_7944

It was hard to believe this was the same river that we’d hiked along when we visited Lower Lewis River Falls in May of 2016.

Lower Lewis River Falls

About a quarter mile from the Lewis River we passed the Divide Camp Trail.

IMG_7878

Just beyond the trail junction we passed over a section of the mountain where a washout or avalanche had wiped out a swath of forest at some point where small trees were now regrowing.

IMG_7939

Just beyond that was an even larger barren rocky area where we came to Adams Creek.

IMG_7882

IMG_7890

This proved to be the trickiest crossing of the entire weekend. We chose a spot where it looked like we could rock hop to a small island where a log might get us to the other side relatively dry.

IMG_7891

It worked reasonably well and we sallied forth towards the Killen Creek Trail. IMG_7898

About a mile from Adams Creek we passed a shrinking pond.

IMG_7912

Another quarter mile brought us to the High Camp Trail which headed toward the mountain.

IMG_7913

Shortly beyond that junction we arrived at the Killen Creek Trail.

IMG_7915

Although we had toyed with the idea of continuing all the way to Killen Creek it was another .4 miles away and downhill. We had done 22.6 miles the day before and this day was already going to be over 17 miles so we decided to call it good. We figure we can go back someday and start on the Killen Creek Trail and go north on the PCT from the junction.

On the way back the haze began to clear and the passed far enough overhead to greatly improve the views of Mt. Adams.

IMG_7954

The massive Adams Glacier really caught our attention.

IMG_7955

IMG_7956

While we were admiring the mountain, Heather spotted a face in the rocks.

IMG_7957

IMG_7959

The view of Mt. Adams kept getting clearer and even the view of Mt. Rainier improved somewhat.

IMG_7976

IMG_7985

One view that didn’t improve was to the SW where yet another smoke plume had arisen. This one we would learn the next day was the East Crater Fire in the Indian Heaven Wilderness.

IMG_7981

We stopped again at Riley Creek where we joined a number of PCT thru-hikers cooling off and collecting water. We refilled our packs as well as our 96oz canteen (which was not the most fun thing to haul the 4 miles back to camp).

It was just after 4:30 when we arrived back at Horseshoe Meadow. Mt. Adams appeared to be free of any smoke but just over it’s shoulder to the east the sky looked really smokey.

IMG_7991

We ate dinner then sat by our tent and watched as a few wispy clouds passed overhead.

IMG_8002

IMG_8005

With all the fires around we couldn’t have asked for a better couple of days on the mountain. Those wonderful conditions didn’t make it into Labor Day though.

We woke up at 5:30am and despite it still being dark, we knew that some smoke had moved in based on the smell. When I got out of the tent and turned on my headlamp it illuminated the ash that was falling like a light snow. As the morning light made seeing a little easier we found that we couldn’t even see Mt. Adams.

IMG_8007

As the Sun rose higher we could at least make out the mountains outline through the smoke.

IMG_8015

We ate breakfast and packed up then headed south on the PCT.

IMG_8021

Overall it was a cool morning but occasional blasts of warmer air hit us. We had started hiking a little before 7am so that helped. We passed a number of thru-hikers on their way north, one of whom told us that the Indian Heaven Wilderness was closed due to a new fire (East Crater).

A red sun came up over Mt. Adams as we made our way back.

IMG_8030

IMG_8033

The smoke finally lessened a bit when we had gotten back down into unburnt forest.

IMG_8037

Near the trailhead we spoke to another thru-hiker who had been evacuated from Cascade Locks due to the Eagle Creek Fire. It was from her that we learned a teenager illegally using fireworks had started the inferno and that at least 140 hikers had been stranded overnight, trapped between the Eagle Creek and Indian Creek Fires.

Given the information we decided to drive back to Salem around Mt. Hood via Highways 35 and 26 thinking that I84 might be closed by the time we were trying to get through. It’s been a tough year out west regarding wildfires. Even though they are a natural part of the forest cycle (unless some moron does something stupid) it’s hard when so many of our favorite places seem to be burning at the same time. We know they will not look like they once did anytime in our lifetimes, but they will recover and in the meantime we will watch as God’s creation heals. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mt. Adams Wilderness Days 2 & 3

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Labor Day Weekend – Mt. Adams Wilderness Day 1

We are in the midst of a horrible wildfire season which only seems to be getting worse. Our original Labor Day plans literately went up in smoke due to the Separation and Nash Fires burning in the Three Sisters Wilderness among others. Our next plan was to spend the weekend in the Olallie Lake Scenic Area but the air quality in that area due to the aforementioned fires as well as the Whitewater, Scorpion, and Devil’s Fires (and so many more) made attempting to camp in that area unappealing so we kept looking.

After consulting several fire maps we determined that either the Indian Heaven Wilderness or the Mt. Adams Wilderness were our best chances for relatively smoke free hiking. The closest fires to those areas were the Indian Creek Fire burning along Eagle Creek in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness to the south and the Norse Peak Fire in the Norse Peak Wilderness to the north.

We settled on the Mt. Adams Wilderness. Our plan was to hike north on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Williams Mine Trailhead to Horseshoe Meadow where we hoped to set up camp. From there we would take the Round-the-Mountain Trail SE to the South Climb Trail and also visit Lookingglass Lake at some point along the way.

We set off on the PCT a little before 8 o’clock on Saturday morning.

IMG_7458

After crossing Swampy Creek on a footbridge the PCT entered the Mt. Adams Wilderness.

IMG_7459

IMG_7461

It was a warm morning but more importantly it was smoke free. We were greeted by blue sky as the trail entered the fire scar from the 2012 Cascade Creek Fire.

IMG_7473

A few wildflowers remained and lots of ripe huckleberries were available for picking as we went.

IMG_7472

IMG_7479

IMG_7481

IMG_7483

IMG_7488

It was just about six miles from the trailhead to Horseshoe Meadow most of which was in the burnt area. Along the way we passed a some nice meadows, a few green trees and had views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and a smokey Mt. Hood.

IMG_7494

IMG_7487

IMG_7495

IMG_7506

At the junction with the Round-the-Mountain Trail we turned and promptly arrived at Horseshoe Meadow.

IMG_7511

IMG_7512

IMG_7516

Cascade Creek flows through the meadow but was a little too silty filter so we debated on weather to set up camp there or continue on, possibly as far as Lookingglass Lake. After a little more consideration though we decided the location and view from Horseshoe Meadow was too good to pass up so we selected a tent site in some trees.

IMG_7518

IMG_7527

We had each started the day with 3 liters of water in our Osprey reservoirs and had brought full 18oz. Hydro Flasks. We also had an extra 96oz. Naglene Canteen and another small collapsible container that we decided to take with us on our afternoon excursion and fill them up on the way back to camp.

After getting camp situated we headed toward the South Climb Trail on the Round-the-Mountain Trail.

IMG_7530

We’d made the South Climb Trail our turnaround point because our first and only other visit to the Mt. Adams Wilderness was a 2014 hike to Iceberg Lake via the South Climb and Round-the-Mountain Trails.

The trail continued through the Cascade Creek burn with views south to Mt. Hood which remained mostly hidden by smoke.

IMG_7532

IMG_7535

Before long we began to find some forest that had been spared from the fire.

IMG_7537

About a mile from Horseshoe Meadow we came to a small stream with some little pools just big enough to filter water from.

IMG_7540

Just beyond the stream we passed the Lookingglass Lake Trail.

IMG_7543

We decided to make that side trip on the way back and then we could fill our extra canteens on the way back to camp from the little stream.

There were a number of creeks and streams with flowing water beyond the Lookingglass Lake Trail junction. The first set all eventually flowed into Cascade Creek further down the mountain.

IMG_7544

IMG_7550

IMG_7570

Much of the area we were now passing through contained debris flows from massive avalanches from the Avalanche Glacier. In fact there had been a warning at the trailhead that a crack in the glacier could trigger an avalanche at any time. The Round-the-Mountain Trail was shown as just outside the danger area but it was obvious from our surroundings that the location of the trail had been in the danger zone in the past.

IMG_7582

The next set of creeks were all tributaries of Salt Creek, most of which flowed from large glacial moraines.

IMG_7583

IMG_7587

IMG_7592

IMG_7595

Others came from springs, one of them just below the trail.

IMG_7600

IMG_7602

IMG_7609

Two and a half miles from the Lookingglass Trail we came to a junction with the Shorthorn Trail.

IMG_7618

We passed more creeks including one with a nice little waterfall surrounded by lush green vegetation.

IMG_7626

IMG_7637

It was just over another 2.5 miles to the South Climb Trail from the Shorthorn Trail which made it about 6 miles from Horseshoe Meadow, a little longer than my initial calculation had been.

IMG_7647

IMG_7648

After a break at the junction we headed back and turned down the Lookingglass Lake Trail.

IMG_7668

It was about a mile downhill to the lake. The trail passed through more forest affected by fire and crossed several creeks including one with a number of frogs.

IMG_7669

IMG_7673

IMG_7677

IMG_7681

IMG_7687

We made our way around the lake and sat on a little hill facing Mt. Adams where we ate dinner.

IMG_7691

IMG_7693

IMG_7695

IMG_7697

It was a little after 6pm when we finally left the lake and headed back up to the Round-the-Mountain Trail. As we climbed we were looking back at the lake when we noticed a smoke plume that we had not seen on the way down to the lake.

IMG_7699

IMG_7700

Based on its location in relation to Mt. Hood we wondered if the Indian Creek Fire had exploded or if this was some new fire in the Columbia River Gorge.

IMG_7706

On Monday we learned from a northbound PCT hiker who had been evacuated from Cascade Locks that what we had seen was the new Eagle Creek Fire apparently started by teenager playing with illegal fireworks. What an idiot. As I write this trip report much of the gorge west of the Ruckle Creek Trail including Multnomah Falls has been affected.

We were still planning on getting water on the way back to Horseshoe Meadow at the little stream but we had forgotten how close it was to the Lookingglass Lake Trail and walked right past it. We didn’t realize our mistake until we’d reached the edge of Horseshoe Meadow. We decided that we would make due for the night with what we had left over in our packs (which wasn’t much) and our Hydro Flasks which we’d left at camp. In the morning we’d get water at either Sheep Lake or Riley Creek if no other sources could be found before then along the PCT.

The shadows were growing long back at Horseshoe Meadow.

IMG_7712

We were pretty tired and ready to crash but then we spotted a waterfall across the meadow and just had to check it out. We also thought there might be another water source that wasn’t so silty around. There wasn’t. The waterfall was nice though but it was the color of chocolate milk.

IMG_7726

IMG_7719

IMG_7714

We wound up moving our camp further from the trail due to a large group that had arrived and were a little louder than we preferred. After reestablishing camp we watched the last light hit Mt. Adams and turned in for the night.

IMG_7737

IMG_7742

Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mt. Adams Day 1

Categories
Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Wyeth Trail To North, Rainy, and Black Lakes

This past Veterans Day we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary with a hike. Heather had spent the first part of the week in Las Vegas attending a convention for her work so we were looking to spend some quality time together and what better way than out on the trail away from distractions.

Our hike on the schedule for this month was to be a lollipop loop starting at Wyeth Campground in the Columbia Gorge and passing North, Rainy, and Black Lakes before returning via Green Point Ridge. I had originally estimated this hike to be a little over 16 miles with around 4000′ of elevation gain. Both of these figures turned out to be low. The total elevation gain was closer to 5000′ and the GPS read 21.5 miles when all was said and done.

The Wyeth Trail begins at Wyeth Campground which was gated closed for the season so we parked near the gate on the side of the Wyeth Road (Exit 51 off of I-84) and walked through the empty campground.
Sunrise from Wyeth Campground

Wyeth Campground

The campground is the eastern terminus for the Gorge Trail #400 which we followed briefly to a signed junction near a footbridge over Gorton Creek.
Footbridge over Gorton Creek

Wyeth Trail junction with the Gorge Trail

We turned left following the pointer for the Wyeth Trail passing under a set of power lines before the bridge-less crossing of Harphan Creek.
Creek crossing

Not long after crossing Harphan Creek the Wyeth Trail began its climb. The trail gained approximately 3500 over the next 4.8 miles. This mostly forested section used numerous switchbacks to keep from ever being too steep.
Wyeth Trail

Wyeth Trail

Wyeth Trail

Wyeth Trail

There were a couple of open areas which offered small views across the Columbia River toward Mt. St. Helens. Although the mountain was free of clouds the gray skies above and behind it provided a good camouflage from the camera.
Columbia River from the Wyeth Trail

The trail leveled off at a saddle where it began following the ridge south to the Green Point Ridge Trail junction.
Wyeth Trail juntion with the Green Point Ridge Trail

Green Point Ridge Trail

The Green Point Ridge Trail was our return route so we stayed left and continued 1.4 miles to North Lake. Along the way there was a nice view of Mt. Defiance from a rock field.
Mt. Defiance from the Wyeth Trail

To see North Lake we followed an unsigned trail to the right at a junction where signs pointed back to the Wyeth Campground and ahead to the Mt. Defiance Trail.
Wyeth Trail

Wyeth Trail sign for the Mt. Defiance Trail

North Lake
North Lake

After sitting for a bit on some rocks along North Lake we continued along it’s shore back to the the Wyeth Trail at a junction with the North Lake Trail.
North Lake Trail

We took the North Lake Trail following it for a mile past a small pond to another trail junction.
Pond along the North Lake Trail

North Lake Trail junction with the Rainy Lake Trail

We headed to the left onto the Rainy Lake Trail.
Rainy Lake Trail

A quick .4 miles brought us to Rainy Lake with a view of Green Point Mountain on the far side.
Rainy Lake

Green Point Mountain from Rainy Lake

Green Point Mountain

A tenth of a mile beyond the lake the trail left the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness and ended at the Rainy Lake Campground, which can be driven to. Directions

Mark O. Hatfiled Wilderness boundary near the Rainy Lake Campground

We walked through the campground passing the unique outhouse to the Rainy-Wahtum Trail.
Outhouse at the Rainy Lake Campground

Rainy Lake Trail

The Rainy-Wahtum Trail would lead us up to a junction with the Gorton Creek Trail where we would begin our return to the Wyeth Campground but before we did that we had wanted to visit nearby Black Lake. Both the North Lake Trail map available on the Mt. Hood Forest Service website and Google showed a trail descending to Black Lake from the Rainy-Wahtum Trail. We were keeping our eyes out for this trail and just when we began to think we had missed it we spotted a path near a small cairn.
We thought this was marking the trail to Black Lake

We turned left onto this faint path passing the remnants of an old sign that could no longer be read. All traces of the path soon disappeared and we looked around for old blazes or any other sign of the correct route. With nothing to be seen we pulled out the Forest Service map and compared it the map shown on the Garmin. The GPS didn’t show the trail but we could compare the topography of the two maps to get a good idea of where the trail should be. We bushwacked downhill using the topographic maps in an attempt to pick up some sort of trail but weren’t having any luck so we finally decided to follow a decommissioned logging road down to its junction with Dead Point Road which went by Black Lake after passing the Rainy Lake Campground.
Road to Black Lake

We found a few flowers along the road before arriving at the Black Lake Campground.
Thistle

Black Lake Campground

Black Lake

Black Lake

We took a break at one of the picnic tables which we shared with a caterpillar.
Caterpillar

We followed the road back to the Rainy Lake Campground and set off once again on the Rainy-Wahtum Trail. We watched again for any signs of a different trail to Black Lake both before and after the one we’d turned down but never saw anything.

The Rainy-Wahtum Trail followed what was once Wahtum Road up to a 4-way trail junction.
Rainy-Wahtum Trail

The junction is the meeting point of the Rainy-Wahtum, Gorton Creek, and Herman Creek Cutoff Trails.
Rainy-Wahtum Trail junction with the Gorton Creek, and Herman Creek Cutoff Trails

Gorton Creek Trail

WWII signal Hut

Our route was to follow the Gorton Creek Trail but first we took a very short detour on the Herman Creek Cutoff Trail to check out a WWII signal hut which seemed fitting on Veterans Day.
WWII signal Hut

We started down the Gorton Creek Trail reentering the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness and gradually climbing Green Point Ridge.
Wilderness sign along the Gorton Creek Trail

As we approached Green Point Mountain, which is really just the highest point on the ridge, the first view to open up was of Rainy Lake and Mt. Defiance beyond.
Mt. Defiance and Rainy Lake

Rainy Lake

The Oregon Hikers Field Guide entry for  Green Point Mountain mentions views of Mt. Defiance, Rainy Lake, and Mt. Adams but we quickly found that there were more views than that. Before we were able to see Mt. Adams to the north a glance behind us to the south revealed Mt. Hood rising above the tress.
Mt. Hood

A viewpoint near the summit offered the Mt. Adams, Mt. Defiance, and Rainy Lake view.
Mt. Adams, Mt. Defiance and Rainy Lake

Mt. Adams
Mt. Adams

The view of Mt. Hood was especially nice with a layer of clouds in the valley below it and an opening of blue sky in the clouds above.
Mt. Hood from Green Point Mountain

When we reached the summit we were a bit surprised to see Mt. Rainier join the view to the north and Mt. Jefferson to the south.
Mt. Rainier from Green Point Mountain

Mt. Jefferson and Olallie Butte
Olallie Butte and Mt. Jefferson from Green Point Mountain

Mt. Hood & Mt. Jefferson
Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson from Green Point Mountain

In addition the Goat Rocks were also visible between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams.
Goat Rocks from Green Point Mountain

After enjoying the surprisingly good view we began our descent. It was nearly 2pm and we’d been hiking for almost 7 hours already. I was beginning to suspect that the hike was going to be longer than what I had estimated. We tend to average right around 2mph so a 16 mile hike should take us 8 hours. We hadn’t taken any extended breaks and it didn’t feel like we’d been going particularly slowly on the climb up so extra distance was the only explanation for the time. We picked up the pace on the way down not wanting to have to rely on using lights to finish the hike in the dark.

A quarter mile from the summit we left the Gorton Creek Trail at a three-way junction. The Gorton Creek Trail headed downhill to the left and on the right the North Lake Trail came up from the lake. We stayed straight on the Green Point Ridge Trail.
Green Point Ridge Trail

We followed the wooded ridge another 2.5 miles ignoring the Plateau Cutoff Trail to the left after 1.5 miles.
Green Point Ridge Trail

The steepest section of trail we’d been on all day was the final descent down to the Wyeth Trail.
Green Point Ridge Trail descending to the Wyeth Trail junction

Once we were back on the Wyeth Trail we retraced our steps down to the power lines. Mt. St. Helens was a little more visible on our way down in the afternoon light.
Mt. St. Helens in the distance

Mt. St. Helens from the Wyeth Trail

That morning we had noticed a trail coming up from the Wyeth Campground at the power lines which appeared to be a shorter route than what we had done so when we spotted it on the way down we followed it into the campground arriving back at our car ten minutes before 5pm.

We had hiked from dawn to dusk (nearly 10 hours) without seeing anyone else on the trails. The views had been much better than expected and the lakes were all nice. One of the things that held our interest was the amazing variety of mushrooms along the way. The various colors, shapes, and sizes were impressive. Here is a small sample of that variety.
Mushrooms along the Wyeth Trail

Mushrooms

Mushroom

Mushrooms

Mushroom

Green mushrooms

Mushroom

Red mushroom

Another mushroom

Orange mushroom

Yellow mushrooms

Mushroom on a log

Mushroom groud near Black Lake

Mushrooms along the Wyeth Trail

Despite the hike turning out to be a lot longer than planned it was a great way to spend our anniversary. Happy Trails!

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Mt. Hood Area Oregon Trip report

Cooper Spur

We have had the hike up Cooper Spur on Mt. Hood in our plans for the last several years but for one reason or another it has wound up getting bumped from the schedule.  It was on our schedule again this year with an October date set.  Not wanting to miss out on this hike again we decided to take advantage of what appeared to be an excellent weather forecast and move it up.

Our plan was to start out at the Tilly Jane Ski Trail along Forest Road 3512 and explore the Cloud Cap/Tilly Jane Historic District as well as hiking up Cooper Spur. This starting point adds nearly 2000′ of elevation gain and approximately 5.5 miles to the hike vs starting at either the Tilly Jane or Cloud Cap Saddle Campgrounds but we decided we’d rather spend time hiking up to those areas than driving an additional 30 minutes each way.

The trailhead is located just beyond the Cooper Spur Ski Area on Forest Road 3512. To reach it turn off of Highway 35 onto Cooper Spur Road then turn left onto Cloud Cap Road (Forest Road 3512) at the Cooper Spur Mountain Resort. The trailhead is 1.5 miles along this road with parking on the right.
IMG_6569

Informational signs at the trailhead told a little about the historic district.
IMG_6567

IMG_6568

The trail headed uphill through the forest, reaching a junction after a half mile with the Polallie Ridge Trail which we would be taking as part of our return route.
IMG_6572

IMG_6574

The trail climbed very steadily and soon entered forest burned in the 2011 Dollar Lake Fire.
IMG_6579

The burnt trees allowed for some nice views of not only Mt. Hood but also Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens in Washington.
IMG_6587

IMG_6590

It was very apparent that earlier in the year there had been a nice display of wildflowers along the trail but most of them had long since passed although a few holdouts did remain.
IMG_6606

The dead trees seemed to host plenty of life in the form of a variety of birds flying from tree to tree.
IMG_6601

IMG_6619

IMG_6627

After nearly 3 miles of climbing we neared the Tilly Jane A Frame which was hidden in non-burnt trees.
IMG_6628

Despite being threatened by the 2011 fire, firefighters had been able to save all the structures in the historic district.

Heather and I were busy talking as we approached the A-Frame and I suddenly noticed there was a deer in the trail about 20 yards away. It walked into the trees as I was grabbing the camera, but then a second deer appeared.
IMG_6629

She sized us up for a moment then proceeded to take a few bites of the plants as she followed the other one into the trees.
IMG_6631

IMG_6633

As we continued up the trail we spotted the first deer and saw that it was a young buck.
IMG_6634

After watching the deer for a moment we proceeded to the A-Frame to have a look.
IMG_6638

IMG_6639

IMG_6640

IMG_6642

The A-Frame was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939 and can sleep up to 20. It originally had a kitchen and dining hall on the ground floor with the sleeping area above in the loft.

West of the A-Frame is the Legion Cookhouse (built in 1924) which is not in the best of shape.
IMG_6644

IMG_6645

Just beyond the cookhouse a trail sign announced the Tilly Jane Trail.
IMG_6649

We turned left on the trail after taking a quick look at the American Legion Amphitheater which was also constructed in the 1920s.
IMG_6651

The Tilly Jane Trail enters the Mt. Hood Wilderness about a quarter mile from the cookhouse.
IMG_6654

The trail then proceeds uphill along the Polallie Creek Canyon just over three quarters of a mile to the Timberline Trail. A 1980 flash flood sent an 80′ deep wall of water and debris down the canyon. Viewpoints along the way offered a look at the origin of the flood at the headwall of the canyon.
IMG_6656

IMG_6659

Beyond the viewpoint of the headwall the forest began thinning out providing nice views ahead of Mt. Hood.
IMG_6666

We also had a great view of Mt. Adams which is something we seem to rarely get.
IMG_6676

Just over a mile from the cookhouse and 4 miles from the trailhead on FR 3512 we arrived at the Timberline Trail.
IMG_6681

We followed the pointer for Cooper Spur a tenth of a mile to the Cooper Spur Shelter.
IMG_6688

Cloud Cap Inn was visible from the shelter which we planned to visit on our way down.
IMG_6690

IMG_6691

We continued up from the shelter following a clear trail.
IMG_6701

The official trail shown on maps switchbacks uphill but we wound up off the trail after visiting a viewpoint of the Eliot Glacier near a memorial plaque for Robert Edling, a mountain rescue pilot that died in a crop duster accident near The Dalles.
IMG_6703

IMG_6708

From the memorial plaque we headed straight up the ridge following a confusion of faint paths up through the rocks.
IMG_6713

This was much steeper than the switchbacks would have been and when the official trail came close enough for us to see it we hopped back on. We left it again though when it headed straight for a snowfield. It was a cold morning (the expected high for the day in the area was 48) and we knew that the snow would be covered in ice so we wouldn’t be able to cross it. We returned to the edge of the ridge and headed straight up again. In addition to making the distance a little shorter, the main advantage to this route were the views. The views of the Eliot Glacier were really interesting.
IMG_6718

IMG_6719

IMG_6720

IMG_6721

IMG_6722

IMG_6723

IMG_6717

The route steepened quite a bit as it veered to the east to climb to the top of a moraine.
IMG_6725

A stone windbreak at the top wasn’t housing any hikers but there were a few ladybugs taking shelter.
IMG_6736

IMG_6768

The official trail ends here where the views were spectacular. To the south Broken Top, The Three Sisters, and Mt. Jefferson were all visible.
IMG_6738

To the north Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams were all virtually cloud free.
IMG_6740

IMG_6746

IMG_6741

IMG_6743

To the NE the Columbia River snaked from the dry brown landscape of eastern WA and OR into the forested cliffs of the Columbia Gorge.
IMG_6755

Further to the east the Newton Clark Glacier drained into the Newton Creek Canyon.
IMG_6756

Mt. Hood provided the most dramatic view though.
IMG_6750

One of the features on Mt. Hood that we had a good view of was Pulpit Rock.
IMG_6760

Another unique feature in the area is Hiroshima Rock. A boulder inscribed by a group of Japanese climbers in 1910.
IMG_6751

For more information on the Hiroshima Rock check out this post by WyEast Blog.

Even though the official trail ended at roughly 8500′ on top of the moraine, a climbers trail continued along the ridge past Tie-in Rock, a large boulder not far beyond the start of the ridge. The ridge was snow free so we continued on passing Tie-in Rock and continuing to an elevation just over 8900′ where the trail dropped slightly to a saddle between the Eliot and Newton Clark Glaciers.

Heather crossing the ridge. (Tie-in Rock is the large boulder in the distance just to the right of the trail.)
IMG_6770

The first section of the ridge was somewhat level before a final rocky climb to our turnaround point.
IMG_6773

We passed a final memorial plaque along the way remembering the victims of a 1981 climbing accident.
IMG_6774

IMG_6775

Other than a bow hunter, who had been at the trailhead when we arrived that morning, we hadn’t seen anyone other people and were alone on the ridge.
IMG_6785

From this highest point one final Cascade Peak came into view to the south – Diamond Peak.
IMG_6804

After enjoying the views we headed back down the way we’d come. As we were descending some high clouds passed overhead changing the scenery a bit.
IMG_6817

We decided to follow the official trail on the way down from the moraine which turned out not to be the best decision. The snowfield was still impassible and it was a lot bigger than we had anticipated which caused us to have to swing out wide and make our way down along the snow in loose rocks and sand.
IMG_6821

After passing below the snowfield we contoured back toward the official trail eventually picking it up about a mile and a half from the Timberline Trail. We then followed it back down to the junction and turned left on the Timberline Trail and headed toward Cloud Cap.
IMG_6824

IMG_6825

The trail descended to a crossing of the upper (and dry) portion of Tilly Jane Creek where it split. With no signs it was difficult to tell if we should turn downhill along the creek or climb to the ridge along the Eliot Moraine. We chose to go up where we found a nice path with great views along the ridge.
IMG_6832

IMG_6828

IMG_6830

Near the end of the moraine the trail dropped down to the right into the forest.
IMG_6835

After 1.2 miles we came to a sign for the Cloud Cap Trailhead.
IMG_6836

We followed that trail for 100 yards to the Cloud Cap Saddle Campground where a road led up and around a hill to the Cloud Cap Inn.
IMG_6837

IMG_6838

Snowshoe Cabin
IMG_6839

Cloud Cap Inn
IMG_6846

IMG_6848

IMG_6849

The inn was opened in 1889 and is currently maintained by the Hood River Crag Rats who use the inn as a base for snow surveys and mountain rescues. Click  here for more on the inn’s history.

After visiting Cloud Cap we passed back through the campground where we turned left on the Tilly Jane Trail.
IMG_6852

This section of the trail passed through a mix of burnt and unburnt forest and still had a few flowers along it.
Aster
IMG_6854

Pearly everlasting
IMG_6855

Goldenrod
IMG_6857

IMG_6859

We followed signs to the Tilly Jane Campground and the 1924 Tilly Jane Guard Station.
IMG_6860

IMG_6863

IMG_6864

The trail crossed Tilly Jane Creek on a footbridge between the Guard Station and the amphitheater.
IMG_6866

IMG_6868

Instead of returning on the Tilly Jane Ski Trail which led past the A-Frame we turned back uphill on the Tilly Jane Trail for a couple hundred feet to a trail sign for the Polallie Ridge Trail.
IMG_6871

The Polallie Ridge Trail quickly entered the Dollar Fire burn area. The trail stuck closely to the top of the ridge as it headed straight downhill.
IMG_6876

IMG_6882

There was a nice view back to Mt. Hood as well as the headwall of the Polallie Creek Canyon.
IMG_6878

The trail was faint and appeared to get more use by deer than hikers. Manzanita and chinkapin covered sections of the trail but it was passable.
IMG_6883

IMG_6888

chinkapin
IMG_6885

The trail eventually reentered forest unaffected by the fire and just over 2 miles from the Tilly Jane Trail junction we turned left following a blue arrow for the Polallie Ridge Trail.
IMG_6889

IMG_6890

IMG_6891

Another quarter mile brought us back to the Tilly Jane Ski Trail just .5 miles from our car.
IMG_6892

IMG_6894

The total distance for the hike was 13.9 miles with a little over 5000′ of elevation gain. It had been a near perfect day for the hike with the cool temperatures and lack of troublesome clouds. Having had Cooper Spur all to ourselves was just a bonus. We had begun seeing other hikers when we began descending from the moraine at 8500′ and there were plenty of cars at Cloud Cap and the Tilly Jane Campground as well as the trailhead when we got back. It was another good reminder why we get ourselves up so early on hiking days.

Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157674245738906

Categories
Hiking Silver Star Mountain SW Washington Trip report Washington

Bluff Mountain Trail to Silver Star Mountain

Late June is typically a good time to catch the wildflower displays on Silver Star Mountain in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest. Located in Washington between the Columbia Gorge and the snowy peaks of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams the Silver Star Scenic Area offers several trails. Many of the trails pass through areas that were part of the 1902 Yacolt Burn, the largest fire in Washington State’s history. The series of September fires left exposed ridges and hillsides which are now wildflower filled meadows. The two most popular routes to Silver Star Mountain are via the Silver Star Trail/Ed’s Trail, a 5.2 mile loop, and an 8.2 mile loop via the Grouse Vista Trailhead. Each of these starting points come with their own drawbacks. Road 4109 which leads to the Silver Star Trail is an awful drive full of rocks, ruts, and potholes. The Grouse Vista Trailhead is on Washington Department of Natural Resource land and thus a Discovery Pass is required to park a car there. Passes are currently $10/day or $30/annually. We had done an expanded loop starting on the Silver Star Trail in 2013 https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/silver-star-mountain/ and didn’t feel like shelling out another $10 for a discovery pass so for this visit we chose a third option – the Bluff Mountain Trail.

The Bluff Mountain Trailhead has its drawbacks too, mostly a slow drive on a rock and pothole filled Forest Service road. I don’t think it is as bad as road 4109, you do pass this road on the way to the trailhead, but it is longer and took us a little over 45min to cover the 9.4 miles. It is also the longest route to Silver Star at 6.5 miles one way. The trailhead is at a poorly marked junction where the road bends around a ridge at a large swath of dirt. Only a small wooden stake marks the start of the trail which follows an old roadbed for the first 2 miles.
IMG_4862

Both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams were visible from the trailhead parking area. It was going to be another hot day here with the highs near 90 degrees, but it was also fairly cloudy so the air was humid and the horizon hazy. We had prepared for the heat by filling the bladders for our packs the night before and leaving them in the refrigerator, bringing a couple of additional Hydro Flasks full of water, and packing some extra salty items such as potato chips and some after hike pickles.
IMG_4867

IMG_4869

IMG_4870

The old road traveled along ridges past a couple of small hills where a few trees were present. After passing the first of these hills Silver Star Mountain was visible in the distance.

Silver Star Mountain on the far right.
IMG_4874

There were still quite a few flowers along the ridge despite the hot and dry conditions, and there seemed to be butterflies everywhere we looked.
IMG_4875

IMG_4876

IMG_4886

IMG_4896

IMG_4893

There were even some huckleberries beginning to ripen.
IMG_4879

One sight that was not welcome was a fire pit filled with garbage where someone had obviously been shooting a shotgun.
IMG_4884

This is something we see far too often and it’s really disappointing that people bother to head out into nature just to make it their personal garbage can.

We continued along the road toward Bluff Mountain amid the wildflowers and butterflies. The views kept shifting as the old road made its way around the small hills along the ridge.
IMG_4902

IMG_4898

IMG_4910

IMG_4915

Little Baldy
IMG_4897

Silver Star Mountain and Little Baldy
IMG_4900

At the two mile mark the trail left the road and diped along the right hand side of a small knoll. At the split the view included all three of the peaks we would be passing – Bluff Mountain, Little Blady, and Silver Star Mountain.
IMG_4918

It was interesting to be able to see so much of our route due to the open views. Often times we could see the trail in the distance giving us a glimpse of what lay ahead.
IMG_4921

The section of trail between the road and Bluff Mountain was full of flowers. Some had seen better days a week or two before but many were still blooming strong and crowding the trail.
IMG_4924

IMG_4933

IMG_4925

IMG_4928

IMG_4939

In addition to the numerous butterflies we were seeing we also spotted several snakes during the hike. This one was spotted as we were passing below Bluff Mountain.
IMG_4947

New flowers and more butterflies joined the views as we passed under the cliffs of Bluff Mountain.
IMG_4953

IMG_4952

IMG_4956

There were also lots of thimble and salmon berry bushes. The thimbleberries were not ripe yet but we found plenty of red and orange salmonberries ready to be eaten.
IMG_4962

IMG_4968

IMG_4966

Looking back from where we’d come we could see three Cascade mountains. (Some better than others)
IMG_4963

Mt. St. Helens
IMG_4972

Mt. Rainier
IMG_4970

Mt. Adams
IMG_4974

After passing through the thick berry bushes the trail crossed a rock field then entered an forest of trees on a wide ridge between Bluff Mountain and Little Baldy.
IMG_4973

IMG_4975

We spotted a small rock cairn and what looked like a possible trail leading off to the right but didn’t have time to investigate.
IMG_4978

When we emerged from the trees we were in a small meadow with a view of Mt. Hood.
IMG_4979

IMG_4985

The meadow was full of yellow flowers.
IMG_4980

We also spotted some of my favorite flowers – gentians.IMG_4981

We were now on the opposite side of Little Baldy from what we’d been seeing all morning. Silver Star Mountain spread out ahead of us across a deep valley.
IMG_4987

IMG_4990

Little Baldy looked like a giant rock pile with a few patches of vegetation growing on its flanks.
IMG_4995

Gentians dotted the trail wherever plants were able to grow.
IMG_4992

As were were walking we started to hear a loud noise in the distance. At first I thought it might be thunder since the forecast had called for some storms later in the afternoon, but the noise kept growing and getting closer. Heather was the first to identify it as helicopters and then we spotted three of them crossing the sky above Silver Star.
IMG_5003

IMG_5005

IMG_5007

At the 5 mile mark we reached the junction with the Starway Trail. This trail starts on the same Forest Service Road as the Bluff Mountain Trail but at an elevation almost 2000′ lower and is reportedly difficult to follow due to light usage and maintenance. We had watched for the trailhead during the tedious drive along road 41 but were unable to spot it on the way up or back down in the afternoon.
IMG_5033

We were now on the final half mile section of the Bluff Mountain Trail before its end at the Silver Star Summit Trail. The trail skirted along the ridge amid wildflower covered slopes and mountain views.
IMG_5047

IMG_5042

IMG_5053

IMG_5054

IMG_5058

IMG_5076

I had been trying to get one of the many lighter colored butterflies to land long enough for a picture and finally a pink-edged sulpher landed long enough for one.
IMG_5050

As we neared the end of the trail it suddenly forked with the left hand path heading up the hillside while the right hand side turned and began a traverse along a ridge away from the summit. We initially went right due to that fork looking more like an official trail than the left hand fork but we were getting further from the summit and starting to lose some elevation. I checked the map then the GPS unit and decided we should have taken the narrower left hand fork up so we hiked back and took the other path up to a camp site next to an old road that serves as the Silver Star Summit Trail. The only sign in the area was a small metal plate attached to a tree at the campsite.
IMG_5079

We turned up the old road and headed for Silver Stars dual summits.
IMG_5081

IMG_5083

The views are great all along the long summit of the mountain. Our route was laid out below us all the way to the large dirt parking area where we’d left our car that morning.
IMG_5085

IMG_5087

On our previous visit we had visited the southern summit first so this time we headed for the northern rocky summit where a lookout tower once stood.
IMG_5097

IMG_5099

We took a seat on the rocks and ate the potato chips we’d brought along for their extra salt. They really hit the spot after all the hot climb we’d just finished. While we were relaxing and enjoying the view another pair of hikers arrived. I noticed a yellow button hanging from one of their packs and thought it might be a “I’m A Portland Hiker!!” button that some of the members of Oregonhikers.org (formerly Portlandhikers.org) had. It turned out to be miah66 from the forum and a friend who had come up the Silver Star Trail and was planning to return via Ed’s Trail. This was the second time that we’d crossed paths with another member of the forum but the first time we realized it at the time. The first time it wasn’t until we saw a trip report posted on the website that we realized we had passed another forum member.

After a nice conversation we headed to the southern summit then started back down the road. As we were starting to turn into the campsite and the start of the Bluff Mountain Trail miah66 caught up to us. He had realized that he had an extra button which he was nice enough to gift us. After a group photo it went straight on my pack.
1509012_857108270991212_1645144033841294853_n

It was a warm hike back to the car but the views and the butterflies helped keep our minds off the heat. We arrived back at the car with a little water to spare and a shiny new button. 🙂 Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157655183073161